Summer: a time of fun, sun, and searching for summer programming for your children. Luckily, the City of Philadelphia offers plenty of free to low-cost summer camps and quality programming to enrich your child’s summer.

The Citywide Out-of-School-Time Initiative presents the best ways to find City summer camps and youth programming from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, The Free Library, PAL, and WorkReady Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation programming

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation offers over 130 low-cost summer camps ranging from rec-center-based programs to theme camps for sports, aquatics, arts, and outdoor adventure. The free Playstreets program brings the fun right to your block throughout the summer.

This year, the School District of Philadelphia’s 2018-2019 school year ends on June 4 – a full two weeks earlier than last year. To accommodate the change, Parks & Rec summer day camps will start on June 17 and run for eight weeks. Parks & Rec’s Theme and swim camps will open by July 1.

Read on for more details!

Summer Day Camps

  • Runs: June 17 to August 9
  • Cost: Low cost (prices vary)

Parks and Rec summer day camps take place at neighborhood recreation centers and playgrounds. Programming varies, but includes field trips, physical activity and outdoor enrichment. All camps include lunch at no extra cost.

Locate over 130 summer day camps across the city using this handy map-based finder. You can filter for age, cost, and days of the week.

Summer day camps include:

Southwest

West Philly

South Philly

North Philly

Northwest

Kensington

Lower Northeast

Far Northeast

Find registration information here

Theme Camps

  • Runs: July 1 to August 9
  • Cost: Low cost

Parks & Rec offers a large lineup of theme camps ranging from nature adventure and sports (including baseball, soccer, swim, cheer and gymnastics) to art and coding.

Check out the Parks & Rec finder to find all of the options available in your neighborhood for creative and adventurous fun.

Here are some highlights:

Summer Art Camp

  • Runs: July 1 to August 9, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Cost: $150 / three-week session, $50 / registration
    $300 / six-week session, $50 / registration
    Breakfast, lunch, and all supplies are included.

This outdoor camp is for children ages 7 to 17. Campers will learn from experienced artists in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography. The season ends with an art show. Campers are split into three age groups: juniors (ages 7 to 9), intermediates (ages 10 to 12), and seniors (ages 13 to 17). The three age groups will participate in art projects specific to their capabilities and experience.

Camps are held outdoors at three locations:

Register for summer art camp here

Introduction to Performing Arts Camp

  • Runs: July 1 to August 9, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. with an extended care option.
  • Cost: $325.00 / camp season (6 weeks), optional after care is an additional $150 / camp season.

Children ages 6 to 10 will take classes in creative movement, drama, and vocal music. Campers will perform in a special presentation at the end of the six-week camp.

There are four locations for this camp:

Register for Introduction to Performing Arts Camp here
Applications are due by May 28.

Young Performers Theater Camp

  • Runs: July 1 to August 9, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Cost: $200 / camp season (6 weeks), $150 / registration fee, optional bus service is an additional $150 / season

Children ages 9 to 18 will “major” in either musical theater or dance in this intensive performing-arts camp. At the end of the season, dance majors will perform in a choreographed performance and musical theater majors will perform in one of three productions: “The Lion King Jr” (ages 9 to 12), “Bring It On!” (ages 13 to 14), or “Legally Blonde” (ages 15 to 18). New campers will be required to audition prior to enrolling.

Camp locations include (dependent on age and major):

  • University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg Center (University City)
  • Platt Student Performing Arts House (University City)
  • Venice Island Performing Arts Center (Manayunk)

Register for Young Performers Theater Camp here

Be Outside – Teen Adventure Summer Day Camp

  • Runs: June 24 – August 1, Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Cost: $350 / Camp Season (7 weeks) Lunch and transportation not included.

Kids ages 12 to 14 can participate in this two-part outdoor-adventure summer day camp.
Part 1: Children will engage in outdoor activities – such as kayaking, rock-climbing, hiking, and zip lining – to build skills, determination and self-confidence.
Part 2: Focuses on career exploration, S.T.E.M., social responsibility, and physical activity – all with an outdoor theme.

The camp is based out of Chalfont Playground in Northeast Philadelphia.

Register for Be Outside – Teen Adventure Summer Day Camp here

Playstreets 

  • Runs: June 10 to August 30 (varies per Playstreet)
  • Cost: Free

Parks & Rec’s long-standing Playstreets program allows residents to temporarily close their street to vehicle traffic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday throughout the summer months. Any street can apply to become a Playstreet if it is a one-way, non-numbered street, and has a resident who will be the designated Playstreet supervisor.

In addition to the summer meal sites at rec centers, Playstreets also act as hubs for summer-lunch distribution. Playstreet supervisors coordinate street closure, provide play supervision, and schedule lunch and snack time (provided by Parks & Rec).

To apply for your block to become a Playstreet, contact:
Wydeeia Williams
Parks & Rec Summer Food Office
(215) 685-2725

2019 Playstreet applications are open through May 1, 2019.

Summer of Wonder Hits the Streets

  • Runs: June 10 to August 30 (varies per Playstreet)
  • Cost: Free

This summer and next, a grant from the William Penn Foundation will allow Parks & Rec to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Education, Read by 4th Campaign, Police Athletic League (PAL), Free Library, and Fab Youth Philly to bring additional resources for children.

Ten Playstreets will be part of this pilot program. Streets will be selected for this pilot in early May 2019 (based on high need and location). Check back; we will update this post as information becomes available.

  • Fab Youth Philly will provide literacy-based curriculum and physical-activity programming.
  • Free Library and Read By 4th will provide books and reading resources.
  • PAL will provide sports equipment and coordinate games as well as ensure increased safety onsite.
  • Fab Youth Philly’s on-site “Playcaptains” will facilitate games and enrichment.

The additional resources are targeted at preventing “summer slide” and reflect the City’s larger goals of increasing early literacy and safety for children in their out-of-school-time.

Free Library of Philadelphia programming

GSK Science in the Summer

  • Runs: June 18 to August 9
  • Cost: Free

GSK Science in the Summer is a science-education camp for children entering second through sixth grade. The program will be held in 29 neighborhood libraries across the city. Depending on the site, programming is either full day with lunch, or half day.

This year’s topic is “The Science of Me.” The camp will focus on of four themes:
Your Power Plant (Digestive System), Your Delivery System (Heart & Blood), Your Command Center (Brain), and Your Blueprint (DNA & Fingerprints)

Enrollment will open on Monday, May 13 at 12 p.m.

Register for GSK Science in the Summer here
If full, parents are encouraged to sign up for the waitlist as seats often become available.

Summer of Wonder

  • Runs: June 3 to August 3
  • Cost: Free

Summer of Wonder is a self-guided, drop-in reading and enrichment program available at every neighborhood library throughout the summer.

Enroll your child at your neighborhood library or online at www.freelibrary.org. Participants will complete activities, reading logs, book lists, and interact with fellow readers, both in person and online.

Participants will additionally receive an “activity passport” and earn prizes (such as stickers, Free Library swag, and books) for reading or attending library events.

Library event schedules will vary, but include craft and “maker” activities, story time, book clubs, gaming, and STEM programs. Visit your local library to learn more.

Camp Play and Learn

  • Runs: August 12 to 23
  • Cost: Free

Camp Play and Learn is a two-week, back-to-school-prep camp taking place in five library sites across the city. This camp is designed to prepare incoming 1st through 3rd grade students for the school year by building literacy skills and promoting positive classroom behaviors in a fun environment.

Camp locations:

Registration starts in May. Call or visit a location for more information.

Police Athletic League (PAL) programming

Photo courtesy of Police Athletic League

Through its 20 neighborhood-based centers, the Police Athletic League (PAL) strives to reduce crime, promote positive character development, and improve educational outcomes for Philadelphia children.

Summer Sports Programs

  • Runs: June 10 to August 26
  • Cost: Free

PAL’s mission of “Cops Helping Kids” continues throughout the summer months with a variety of sports-based programming offered off-site. This year the organization is offering golf, tennis, and baseball camps.

Children ages 6 to 18 can sign up for the sports camps by visiting their local PAL center. All programs are free. Due to transportation limitations, spaces may fill up quickly, so visit a center soon to participate.

Other PAL summer events

  • June 14 – Home Run Derby at the Phillies
  • June 17 – PECO PAL Day at the ZOO summer kick-off event

Visit a PAL center for more information
Look up local PAL centers near you here

Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) programming

WorkReady Philadelphia Summer Jobs

  • Runs: June to August (varies per provider)
  • Cost: N/A (paid work experience)

WorkReady Philadelphia (managed by the Philadelphia Youth Network) is a citywide effort to create a more equitable workforce by increasing access to work experience and career-readiness.

Youth (ages 12 to 21) sign up, attend an orientation, then are placed into a program in WorkReady’s large network of employer-providers. Providers range from large corporations to nonprofit and arts organizations.

In the summer of 2018, WorkReady provided over 10,000 summer work opportunities for Philadelphia youth. In addition to work experience, WorkReady offers professional development, networking and financial literacy training through its summer programs.

Youth complete paid work experience in one of these four program models:

  • Career exposure – Middle school students can explore a range of career settings and industries as an introduction to career paths.
  • Service learning – Youth work in teams to complete a project in a nonprofit or community setting.
  • Work experience – Youth with limited or no work experience participate in work-based learning projects and work-readiness training.
  • Internships – Youth with prior work experience intern in real-word settings and take part in a series of professional development workshops to strengthen professional skills.

Nasir, a WorkReady alum who worked at Comcast, had this sage advice for new interns: “Make your presence known. I have attended meetings and orientations where I’ve made an impression. Afterwards, I would see those same people and they would remember my name.”

WorkReady Applications are now open for 2019 summer jobs.
Apply as soon as possible, spaces are limited and in demand.

Visit phila.workready.org to learn more about applying. Or find a provider to learn more about the various opportunities here.

Out-of-School-Time programming is an important component of learning and development for young people. Here's how the City and partners are working together to promote students' intellectual, creative, and healthy development all day and year-round.